Metro Detroit woman hit with $4K water bill after meter replaced

A metro Detroit woman was stunned when she opened her mail this week and found a $4,000 water after the city replaced her faulty water meter.

The Oak Park woman said the city tested her water meter and, when it failed, replaced it with a new one. Trennese Howard-Lucas has rented the home for about five years and typically pays about $200 for her water bill. 

In late 2016/early 2017, it jumped up more than ten times. Now it's at almost $4,000 - which is used by three people in the home.

"I don't (use a lot of water). There's only three people in my household," Trennese said.

After getting the bill and talking with the department on the phone, she and her property management company met with the city of Oak Park.

"The owner of the management company walked out because he says this is ridiculous," she said.

The property inspections didn't reveal any leaks so does that mean there's a problem with the meter? In May 2017, it was tested and didn't pass the guidelines. 

Steve Lukasic, deputy treasurer for the City of Oak Park, said there are no issues with the meter.

"Correct, based on the meter test (the bill is right)," he said.

Meters are read every three months and, looking at the meter, it shows water use was about 20 units in December 2016, 70 units and by March 2017, 290 units were used. 

Lukasic said he believes the meter tests are accurate and that a new meter was installed at the end of April 2017, as requested by the landlord.

The owner of the home actually paid the city the $4,000 water bill but Trennese is responsible for the water bill because of the lease. 

"We had a water board hearing and we've evaluated it several times. It's an unfortunate situation but we've done the right thing on behalf of our taxpayers," City Manager Erik Tungate said.

So at this point in time, the only thing to do is pay it or cut a deal.